How Does Google Determine the #1 Ranking?

People always ask, how can we rank higher and get more leads? Less often heard is how do you rank #1 on Google.

Because #1 is the better goal. If you rank number one, the searcher’s quest could end right there on your website and you get a new customer.

If you rank #2 to #10, you get the poorer quality leads, ones that have visited your competitor’s sites or who are window shopping. They’re contaminated by your competitor’s messages (and ads stuffed into the page) which means they’ll be more challenging to convert to a customer. It’s a fact that conversion rates at the top are way better. And of course, the total revenue generated from an advanced level SEO effort could be substantial.

Yes, get your leads while they’re hot — at #1!

You’ve heard me speak many times about being the market leader. Being audacious and going for the lead is vital to digital marketing success.  I’ve created many posts that have drawn more than a million visits over years. Just name any other promotional channel/recourse that could produce that kind of exposure and clicks.

Consider that a single click could be worth $1 to $100 in ppc cost, and a single quality lead could be worth hundreds of thousands to you. And what about the growing hoards of return visitors who come back because they’re intrigued and on the path to becoming a customer? Yes, it’s hard to beat FREE visitors.

Whatever way you look at it, the value proposition from SEO leads is impressive. And it could elevate the rest of your marketing mix.

Amazing, Wonderful High Rankings

You can grab these lofty positions on Google and Bing. Don’t close your mind to this grand opportunity. It’s there for the taking.

Don’t Settle for Second Best

Sadly, the average business owner or manager’s focus isn’t on being the king of the rankings — the first listed page on the search results. They’re just hoping for a top 10 placement on one keyword phrase. That’s just not enough, even if that phrase is worth $100 a click on PPC ads. If you insist on settling for average or second place, that’s what your business will be.

Spend the money, get the expert and go all out for number one.  Being confident and audacious are precursors to being the market leader. And that’s where the big profits are.


Audacity is the number one trait of successful entrepreneurs.  It’s not courage, confidence, and process that creates greatness — it is good old gall or audacity to be the best that wins.


Hard work, skill and talent win a Stanley Cup Championship

I helped my hotel client double their traffic from 1.2 million visitors per year to 2.5 million visitors per year by going for it.  You couldn’t do a hotel search without seeing my client’s listing in the first three spots. That was total dominance.

Number one rankings take ambition, courage, excellence, strategy, commitment and audacity. And when you don’t win them right away, it takes calm, optimistic persistence. If you want that top ranking, you’ll get it, if you’re committed to getting it.

What’s your vision of your place right now in the ranking marketplace?  Your competitors envision number 1.

Understanding What Google Wants at the Top

Knowing deeply how Google ranks pages is valuable.  These are the “signals” that tell Google that my client’s pages are relevant, trustworthy and the most significant resource for searchers.

This optimization engineering takes into account many different characteristics involving keywords, topics, related words, narratives, processes, linking, and in encouraging other people to share the page/resource and link to it.

In years past (decades), the number one ranking page reigned supreme due to the number of websites that linked to it. It was so simple. Today, Google considers numerous checkpoints to ensure the page is of the highest quality, yet they want more.

Being the highest quality resource isn’t sufficient. You need to prove to Google in many different ways that your page is first class, unique, and the most significant one on the topic. Their ranking criteria evaluates it from different angles (e.g., expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness, and now, real world experience).

Measuring SEO Success. Screenshot courtesy of

It’s not about appearances, it’s about the full value of your page.

Typically, your content has weaknesses compared to competitors. You’ll need to focus more on those factors where you can win (e.g., showing experience). You may not claim superior knowledge, the best products, great reviews, most backlinks, and mentions on big industry sites, but you have some great client stories to tell. Google wants to hear them too. You can be outgunned by top competitors and still win with many underdog SEO techniques. And remember, they’re trying hard too.

Strong Promotion is Needed

Where most fail at SEO and top rankings is due to weak promotion. Promotion creates reach, and it also sets a tone for your campaigns. Weak promotion communicates weakness and a lack of commitment. Customers can see that, which is why your ppc campaigns are used together with SEO.

Promoting your page/resource is essential to reach the most influential people — such as journalists, industry experts, customers, and regular web surfing folks.  They can’t promote, share and link to it, until they find it. Promotion creates the reach needed to get the Google ranking ball rolling.

Doing your target market research is essential. This way you won’t waste your time or money. Choosing the right channels (Google ads, Facebook ads, Linkedin, Youtube, social media, industry portals, trade shows, news sites) lets you reach the exact right audience. When you do this well, and top influential people find it, the mentions and links to it could be why it hits number one on Google.

Yes, promotion is powerful.

A talented advanced SEO specialist with all sorts of tricky techniques is great. But it won’t be enough in a very competitive high value category. This is where big money promotion can catapult your page’s full potential to claim the crown of #1.

Strong Promotion with a Plan

Just throwing money at it won’t work. Lot’s of companies try that. Combining money with an expert SEO specialist and creative content designers is a great combination. Well designed content that is informative, unique, compelling, authoritative, and attractive makes it appear to deserve top ranking. A complete packaged and presented (branded) content piece of great value shapes reader’s perceptions.  It makes an impact.

Number one ranking pages often happen on websites with a strong, well known brand. A brand creates trust, credibility, and helps the user feel comfortable. Top brands are supported by strong promotion.  So the top ranking content piece doesn’t do it on its own. It is the centerpiece of a strong, overall promotional effort (usually) that makes everyone believe your brand, company, and content provides a satisfying user experience.

That boosts rankings. And it also improves content engagement, reduces bounce rates, and finally, creates a sale. Supporting the full customer experience and buyer journey helps rankings.

The Top Ranking Page is a Usually a Special Resource

Spending time on creating something uniquely valuable and a memorable experience is wise. It’s an excellent content piece on a very relevant topic related to the customer’s strongest pain points — which makes customers put it in a special category of most significant.

Google could rank it number one for a variety of reasons, but generally, it’s because it has most of the quality signals, and it is very “on topic”, compelling and unique. Being on topic means it satisfies the user’s search intent. It answers their question, and likely fits well into the bigger reason why they’re searching too.

People search as part of a process, not just for one single answer. After they answer one issue, they progress to the next one, and they re-evaluate what they believed and thought they wanted. Searcher’s preferences change in this information process.

Content that satisfies the query and the user experience best will often rank near the top.

But what gets that page right to the number one position?

It will be affected by why the searcher is searching —  their intent. Are they searching for a location, to find information, researching before buying, or to make a purchase transaction? The top page answers the key user intent need.

Then Google will assess the quality of the page, its trustworthiness, depth, coverage, and its significance against all other pages.

However, even today, the number one ranking page usually has the most backlinks pointing to it. The backlinks represent votes from all the people on the web. Attracting the most backlinks can get you top rank.  But even that may not be enough, because people still bounce off the page. If your bounce rate is high, especially quick bounces, it indicates that page wasn’t of interest or isn’t that significant to them.

There’s many quality checks Google considers and your advanced SEO specialist will help you resolve them. A good budget for research, great content production, design, and promotion is a package that will see you to the top. The number one asset, what you can’t do without, is an experienced, clever, and talented SEO strategist — your advanced SEO provider.

Just read their content and you’ll know quickly whether they have the creativity, insight and determination to take you to the top. No deep transparency means they likely don’t have the skills.

Top SEOs know why Google ranks some content at the top. We’re your Sherpa. Hire a good one.

Check out these comprehensive SEO services.

AI Marketers provides digital marketing services (content, SEO, social media, PPC) for software companies, manufacturers, hotels, recruiters, moving companies, publishers, sports equipment retailers, building supplies companies, window and door companies, Realtors, investment companies, IT companies, clean energy, consumer products, branding consultants and many more.

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